Wellington Town Council’s share of the council tax bill is set to go up by 10 per cent from April - equal to nearly 15p a week or 65p a month for Band D payers.

The new Somerset Council unitary authority will take the largest amount of the overall tax bill, with the police and fire service also getting a share.

At Wellington Town Council’s finance committee meeting on Monday, councillors voted to back a proposal to raise its precept to £466,332 for the 2023-24 financial year.

This means that those living in an average Band D household will see their town council bill go up from £76.95 to £84.65 – an increase of £7.70. That rise of 65p a month would equate to buying one packet of Tesco-brand chocolate digestive biscuits.

But Cllr John Thorne argued against an increase. He said the council had to consider the current economic climate and the cost of living crisis being faced by people across the country.

“Things are hard for people,” he said. “People are struggling to heat their homes. I know we are the town council and we are only talking pence, but every penny counts as they say. We should be leading by example and helping people.”

Cllr Andrew Govier said he understood what Cllr Thorne was conveying, but could not agree with the council not raising its precept. “I have every sympathy with what John has said, but I fear that if we don’t put it up we will have to put it up even more in the next couple of years,” he explained. Cllr Govier said that “more and more” responsibilities could be offered to the town council when the unitary Somerset Council goes live next April.

“I think we can justify things with people about putting the precept up,” he said. “If we don’t keep pace with inflation we could find ourselves in problems.”

Cllr Marcus Barr, who has been a strong supporter in the past at no precept increase, admitted that it had to go up this year. “We don’t know what is coming down the road with the unitary authority,” he said. “The last three years I’ve said about freezing the Council Tax, but not this year. It is a difficult one because we have to take inflation into account.”

The Mayor, Cllr Mark Lithgow, said: “Unless we keep making modest increases we will find ourselves in trouble in a few years time.”

Councillors were told that the year’s expenditure was budgeted for £623,264 and offset by an estimated income of £20,191. Already included in the budget is for the council to provide a community warden/town ranger, refurbishment of the Longforth Road public toilets and additional office staff to implement projects and events. The committee voted to recommend a ten per cent increase for a final decision by the full council at its budget setting meeting in January.